For most of the past century, Big Oil executives found it pretty easy to explain to investors how their businesses worked. Just locate more of the commodities that everyone needed, extract and process them as cheaply as possible, then watch the profits flow.
That's all over now. The change has been so profound that the chief executive officer of BP recently found himself hyping the profit potential of another commodity. "People may not know - BP sells coffee. We sold 150 million cups of coffee last year," Bernard Looney said in an interview in August, referring to beverage kiosks attached to the company's fuel stations. "This is a very strong business. It's a growth business."..